OK, this is not an infrequent question. I get to play “Dave the Science Dad” and “Dave the Math Dad”.
As Robyn mentions, we generally teach them ‘en masse’, meaning ‘they are all in the 4th grade’. What extra the littlest ones, playing cars and trucks at my feet, can absorb they get to keep. I don’t do terribly much with the three little boys, other than my habit of counting whenever I carry them up or down the stairs.
Then they fall into three logical attention span divisions: the three little boys (currently ages 7 months – 2years) are off the hook for now other than passive absorption; the three middle girls (ages 3-5 years) get absorption plus flash cards and computer math; and the ‘big three’ (ages 7-10 years) get flash cards, library videos, computer math, ‘applied math’ (more on this later), and a DVD-and workbook program called ‘Math-U-See’.
I will discuss the individual components used in Part 4 of this blog.
Then they all get the quirky and incessant “Daddy-isms”. Whenever I take them anywhere, and if Robyn is not there to innocently and completely capture my attention, I keep them busy in the car with silly math songs I learned growing up (maybe it was Sesame Street or the Electric Company) such as “inchbug” where they have unknowingly been hoodwinked into learning to count in binary scale. Then there are the math quizzes and discussions of how numbers work and where we use them (musical scales, construction and building, banking and credit with interest, etc.). The boys really eat up anything with a dollar sign on it. If a problem is too tough, I just re-state it in money terms and they are solving quadratics and differentials and compounded interest !!
It is good for the little ones to get a glimpse of math applications and why we learn math, and what great things we can do with it.
My golden-hearted daughter seems to get the problems when I put them into money terms , but she always smiles at me and reminds me that she’s going to be a Missionary! Yikes! Scramble, scramble, recover the plan! Well, yes, my dear, butyou will need to know how deep to dig wells for people and how many feet you will need to get donated shoes for, and how many families need meals and how many family members to deliver to, and how many missionaries will need to bring the meals if they can only carry up to 8 meals each…..(whew, saved! In more way than one.)
We all play board games as much as we can. The classic ones: Monopoly, Risk, Trump, and any counting games with at least some dice: Pop-o-matic, Life, Yahtzee, etc. For pattern operations we also throw in a little chess here and there. Finally, and favoritely in my family are the classing card games my Mom taught us to love: Michigan Rummy, Italian games (Briscola. Treisette. Scoba. Etc), Hearts and Spades.
They play each other (with one of us, an uncle or aunt or grandparent to watch and teach) for a while until they get up to speeed to play the older cousins (aka the ‘baby pool’). When they’ve battled it out, we slowly rotate them in to the “mixing with the minnows: where one rookie and one battle axe go try to battle a similar pair . Keep your wits and learn the rules and etiquette, and Uncle Max may send you home with a nickel and he gets the rest for keeping you alive and in one piece. Slip up, and you may have more to fear from Uncle Max than you do the other team. It’s all good fun and learning, and no one’s been shot in nearly a decade or so……but you definitely learn your cards and coins when you earn them.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2…